Our 20s are a time where a lot of us experience true independence for the first time. Sure, most people’s college years were “independent” enough, but most of us were still bringing garbage bags full of laundry to Mom and Dad’s house over the weekend and asking them for a little help when we ~accidentally~ couldn’t pay off our credit card bill at the end of the month. While real, genuine, 20-something-year-old independence can be reached in any town in any state in the U.S., there’s nothing that says, “I’m actually a real adult, now” like living in a foreign country. Being separated from your whole family, and usually, most of your friends can be a daunting experience but honestly — there’s nothing more worthwhile than packing all your junk into two tiny suitcases and hopping on a nine-hour flight with no return flight booked.
Personally, I’m currently packing to move back to the US after living abroad in London for three years. I moved here when I was 18, so it was a straight jump into adulting. The experience of living abroad has done more for me than I ever thought possible and taught me things I never would’ve learned stateside.Everybody says it, but living abroad really does change you. Everyone has the opportunity to live the abroad lifestyle, you just need to take the leap. I promise you, whatever it is that’s holding you back is not worth it. If you need a little bit more convincing, keep scrolling to see 9 reasons every 20-something-year-old needs to book that one-way ticket to Europe — or Asia — or Australia — or Africa — or South America… ASAP.
1. You make friends from all over the world
Having such broad friendships from different continents brings all of those cultures into your life. These friendships teach you first hand what different corners of the world are like, and they also might give you a chance to visit countries you’ve dreamed of visiting. Also, making friends is a lot harder in the real-world, so you’ll get really good at that, too.
Okay, so this one isn’t deep or insightful, but honestly, if there was only one reason to live abroad, it would be for the food. Every region has their own local cuisine, and being able to try that first-hand is incredible. Eating paella in Spain and goulash in Hungary is so much better than at home.
3. You learn how to be okay with being alone.
This sounds so cliché, but learning how to be comfortable with being alone is so important. Quality alone time helps you discover who you really are without the influences of other people. Getting to know yourself is one of the most important things you can do in life and being in a foreign country alone is the perfect place to do that.
Living abroad opens so many new doors when it comes to traveling. You’re in a new place for only a short time, so you want to make the most out of what that part of the world has to offer. Explore the country you’re in and the surrounding ones, because you might never get that chance again. Plus, cheap airlines in places like Europe and Asia make weekend trips to amazing spots you never thought you’d see SO much easier.
5. Actions speak louder than words.
So many times we say “I want to go here” or “I want to learn this.” But when you’re abroad, everything seems possible. Instead of always planning on doing something, you just do it. You’re in this new world and everything seems so shiny and new, so go out and explore it. As Drake once said: “YOLO.”
6. You learn to appreciate the little things.
If you haven’t lived abroad, there’s a good chance you’ve lived in the same small-town your whole life, only having ventured outside of it to go to the college-town a couple hours away. You’ve been so engulfed by the same thing for so long that you don’t realize how good it actually is. When you leave, you realize that the ordinary things are actually extraordinary elsewhere. Kraft Mac n’ Cheese? That’s not a thing outside of the US. Also Peanut Butter, good luck finding that in a French grocery store.
Oh — and another thing! The Bachelorette? Doesn’t exist. (PS: you’ll also become a pro at live streaming American shows at 3 AM, which will eventually be something all of your friends think is super impressive.)
7. You learn how to be hella independent.
It’s a lot harder to rely on other people when you’re alone in a foreign country. When you first move abroad, all of a sudden you are on your own. Whether you just graduated high-school and it’s your first time living alone or you’ve been on-your-own for a while, living abroad is a completely different situation. All of a sudden you’re in a foreign country that you know nothing about and are expected to make a life there? Plus, it’s a lot harder to call your parents when you get yourself in a pickle, which takes your problem-solving skills to new heights. Sounds scary…but you’ll figure it out.
8. You learn how to deal with homesickness.
This is by far the hardest thing to overcome whilst abroad. There are no buses you can catch home for a long weekend; no surprise family visits. Sure, you’ll get homesick watching Snapchat stories of friends celebrating the 4th of July, but you’ll learn how to accept it. Being homesick isn’t a bad thing, you just learn how to live with it. Plus, for as salty as you are about all your BFFs chilling without you, they’re feeling pretty effing jealous about the experiences you’re having.
9. And lastly…your Instagram likes will go through the roof
Nothing looks prettier than a perfectly themed, jet-setters IG-feed. You’ll have all your friends on their toes waiting for your next mouth-watering food post or recent pics from your weekend getaway. Even if you’re rained in for a week, you can fake-it-til-you-make-it with #tb’s and no one would ever know.